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There are four simple questions you need to ask yourself before choosing VCE subjects.

One of the biggest decisions for Year 10 students is choosing which subjects they want to tackle in VCE. 

Should you follow your dreams and choose subjects you enjoy, or buckle down to focus on science and maths? And should you specialise in a particular stream, or is maintaining a broad range of subjects more advantageous?

Rob Fuller, Director of Curriculum at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School suggests there are four simple questions students need to ask themselves before choosing VCE subjects:

  1. What are my interests?
  2. What are my strengths?
  3. What options am I looking for in my future?
  4. What are the prerequisites I need to study for my preferred tertiary course?

While choosing a VCE subject for personal enjoyment may seem counter-intuitive, Mr Fuller suggests embracing subjects that you are interested in is important.

“Basically you’ll always do better at a subject that you’re interested in,” he explains. “You’ll have the passion to actually learn it. Plus, you’ll be motivated to study it more, and so you’ll do better at it.”  

While focusing on your interests is a great way to stay engaged, it’s also important to know what your end point is, and design your course load around that, suggests Fuller. 

Depending on your preferred tertiary course, you’ll need to include any prerequisites into your subject selection. If you are looking at Biomedicine, for example, you may need to study Biology and Chemistry. Similarly, Mathematical Methods is a prerequisite for many university courses.  

For many students, this can lead to choosing subjects in a particular stream, such as Maths, Science or Business. But choose carefully, suggests Fuller. “You need to be in a position where you are going to be able to cope with Mathematical Methods if the tertiary course requires it,” he says. 

You don’t need to study streamed subjects to the exclusion of all else. “It’s good to have some variety there, just to be a bit more diversified,” says Fuller. 

If the subjects you enjoy and a specialised pathway are one and the same thing, you’re in luck. For others, consider studying the prerequisites you need for university entry, and then choose other subjects based on your strengths and interests. It’s an approach Fuller approves of. 

“There is a lot to be said for doing the things that you find enjoyable,” he explains. “In some ways just to give you a bit of relief, because some of those really specialised subjects are some of the heaviest in terms of workload.” 

A Maths and Science approach keeps most tertiary pathways open, which is one of the reasons Mr Fuller encourages all students to study Maths for as long as they possibly can. 

“If you’re looking at studying something like Medicine or Engineering, you should be doing Specialist Mathematics because realistically you are going to need those skills going into university,” he says. 

But with many universities requiring Maths even for an Arts degree, it’s important to consider including Maths in your subject choices. 

“It just gives you that wider variety of possible courses that you can take on at tertiary level.” 

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